Greenlawn continues getting facelift

By Andrew McManus - Contributing columnist

Regina Chabot and Jill Arnzen busy painting the fence at Greenlawn Cemetery Saturday afternoon.

Regina Chabot and Jill Arnzen busy painting the fence at Greenlawn Cemetery Saturday afternoon.

Over the weekend I helped with the Friends of Greenlawn Cemetery Foundation in a project involving the cemetery’s cast iron fence. I had noticed an event through social media and didn’t know much about it. I live close to the cemetery and with the beautiful weather over the weekend (besides Sunday) I jumped at the chance. What I saw was a large group of diverse people all working together to help beautify our city. I was also told by some of the members that more projects are on the horizon so keep a look out and jump in. Turned into a great day! The following is some information from FOGCF:

The 150-plus year-old cast-iron fencing that surrounds the 40-acre Greenlawn Cemetery continues to get a facelift. Last Saturday, over 100 volunteers worked together prepping and painting the historical fence on the section bordering Garfield Street. The entire exterior has now been returned to the original black color. All ages could be seen working side-by-side wire brushing, power washing and painting. Passersby could see once again something wonderful happening in Portsmouth. Public and private partnerships between the City of Portsmouth and local non-profits are making a difference.

Saturday’s project was under the direction of the Friends of Greenlawn Cemetery Foundation and the City of Portsmouth, “Because of the color change it is taking a little longer to paint the entire fence, but the community had indicated they wanted the return to the black, so after investigating the possibility and working with city, it was determined this would be possible.” according to Diane Applegate, FOGCF Board Member who chaired this event along with Pastor John Gowdy. “it is also exciting to see the various organizations offering their time along with countless volunteers who want to be part of this positive movement.”

Volunteers from many area churches and schools as well as SOMC, Hope Source, Compass Community Health, the City of Portsmouth, the Friends of Portsmouth and the FOGCF Board Members and countless others rolled up their sleeves and joined together on this project.

Over the past 16 months, many restoration and preservation projects have been underway at Greenlawn. Established in 1829, the cemetery encompasses 40 acres within the City of Portsmouth and is presently one of oldest working cemeteries in the State of Ohio.

“A huge “thank you” to City Manager Sam Sutherland, Chris Tomlin, Service Director Bill Beaumont’s team and everyone from the City of Portsmouth’s workforce who helped make Saturday’s Community Fence Painting possible. What great support from our city. We are Portsmouth Proud,” Applegate added.

FOGCF President Debbie Gambill also mentioned the Greenlawn Cemetery Chapel Restoration Project is almost complete. “The new doors, windows complete with shutters, all new slate roof, exterior tuckpointing, new electrical service and many other restoration and preservation efforts have been going on over the past twelve months and it is so exciting to see this come to fruition. “

“We want to see the community utilize this beautiful building that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. We are hopeful families will want to have memorial services in the chapel,” Pastor John Gowdy (FOGCF Board Member) added. “Dedicated in 1884 as a place for services for the Civil War veterans, the chapel will once again be utilized as it was intended.”

“Our future plans include a memorial garden “Amy’s Garden” in tribute to Amy Keating located adjacent to the chapel. It will be a place where individuals can spend a few moments in reflection,” Melissa Appleton, FOGCF Board Member) explained. “We are also placing large planters on the Offnere Street and Kinney’s Lane entrances and working cooperatively with the Portsmouth Garden Club on the area around the office.”

Individuals will also see the partnership between the FOGCF and the Scioto County Career and Technical Center rebuilding the brick terraces that surround many of the sections within the cemetery, particularly on the Grant Street side. “The students completed some of the terraces last fall and we are extremely grateful they returned this spring to work on the remaining terraces that have fallen into disrepair,” Applegate added.

Jill Arnzen, FOGC Board Member, commented that many projects are being completed simultaneously. “The fence painting, chapel restoration, the removal of the large tree stump on Kinney’s Lane was just completed this week through the assistance of Will and Barb Burke, beautification of the entryways, digitizing the records and so many other projects that the public indicated they wanted to see completed.”

“Funding for these projects has been through generous donors and the proceeds from the two historical reenactments “The Story of Us” held in October 2017 and 2018. The third installment of the “Story of Us” is scheduled for October 12 and 13th, 2019, so put it on your calendars! This two-night event will feature local actors, under the direction of Linda Tieman, portraying Scioto Countians who made such enormous contributions to our communities,” Gambill continued.

Tanner Hatcher, FOGCF Board Member, has worked at every volunteer event and expressed how exciting it is to be preserving Greenlawn Cemetery. “It is so great to be a part of such a positive movement and to see everyone excited to be here, it’s just amazing.”

The Friends of Greenlawn Cemetery Foundation is a 501(c)3 Non-Profit Corporation founded in May 2017 by a group of local individuals dedicated to the restoration and preservation of the historic Greenlawn Cemetery. If you would like to volunteer to be part of the effort, a “Volunteer” tab has been added to their Facebook page and you could register. “We need volunteers. If you enjoy gardening, if you are tech savvy, enjoy theater, painting or genealogy – we could use you,” Arnzen added. Hatcher agreed adding, “don’t thing there isn’t something

you can do, my friend just stopped by for a minute and he has been here for hours working with us.”

“Every meeting and every project is just so positive,” Tanner Hatcher continued, “everyone contributes to the success and everyone’s ideas are considered.”

Interior fence painting will continue and if you would like to participate or to arrange for your organization to help, please reach out to the Friends of Greenlawn Cemetery Foundation on their Facebook page.

Regina Chabot and Jill Arnzen busy painting the fence at Greenlawn Cemetery Saturday afternoon. Chabot and Jill Arnzen busy painting the fence at Greenlawn Cemetery Saturday afternoon.

By Andrew McManus

Contributing columnist